02.03.15

Burr Praises Unanimous Senate Passage Of Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) released the following statement after the Senate passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act today by a vote of 99-0. The SAV Act seeks to improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for American veterans.

"The suicide rate among veterans is tragically high and the programs and resources available to veterans are overdue for modernization.  Today, the Senate took action to rectify this troubling trend. We must do a better job on behalf of the military men and women who serve to protect our liberties. I am proud that the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act," said Senator Burr. "This legislation is big step in the right direction to fulfill our nation's promise to its veterans." 

Specifically, the bill provides for better access to information on mental health by improving the exchange of training, best practices, and other resources among the VA and non-profit mental health organizations to enhance collaboration of suicide prevention efforts, as well as including a new website that offers veterans information on mental health care services. It creates a pilot program of loan repayment for VA psychiatrists. The Clay Hunt SAV Act also creates a community outreach pilot program to help veterans transition from active duty service and extends the ability for certain combat veterans to enroll in the Veterans Health Administration for one year.

Background:

The legislation is named for Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who committed suicide in March 2011 at the age of 28. Clay enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 2005 and deployed to Anbar Province, near Fallujah, in January 2007. He was shot in the wrist by a sniper’s bullet that barely missed his head, earning him a Purple Heart. Clay recuperated at Twenty Nine Palms, Calif., and then graduated from Marine Corps Scout Sniper School in March 2008. He redeployed to southern Afghanistan a few weeks later. His unit returned in late October 2008 and he was honorably discharged from the Marines in April 2009. After returning home, Clay struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder for many years as he was provided care at his local VA hospital before taking his own life.